Your guide to ride the Portland Winter Light Festival

Get your crew and hit some WLF exhibits!
(Photos: Willamette Light Brigade/Amy Sakurai)

Just in time to cure the long winter blues, the seventh annual Portland Winter Light Festival is here! And we’ve got the details on five group rides and three excellent custom-built routes you can do on your own.

“Twinkle Trees”
(Photo: Willamette Light Brigade/Brooke Hoyer)

As we shared last year, bicycling is the perfect complement to this event because it consists of over 100 works of illuminated art spread across the city. Jumping on a bike and checking out the outdoor displays makes for a perfect evening. The fact that it’s free, Covid-safe, and family-friendly is icing on the cake.

This year’s event runs eight nights between from February 4th through 12th. According to organizers, the nonprofit Willamette Light Brigade, there will be three large “anchor locations” at Pioneer Courthouse Square, World Trade Center (across from Salmon Street Springs), and the Electric Blocks on SE 2nd and Clay. These spots will have large, dynamic artworks along with music and food carts nearby. Check event details because they are only operating Friday and Saturday nights.

Beyond those hubs, you’ll find smaller (but no less intriguing!) installations not just all over Portland but in Tigard, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie and Hayden Island as well.

Among the amazing and interesting visual feasts you can experience are:

  • Helianthus Enorme by Fez BeGaetz, a 25’ tall sunflower with 3,500 pixels of programmable LEDs
  • Large-scale building projections
  • Virror, a 6’ tall LED wall with a 3-D scanning sensor that acts as a “virtual mirror”
  • Bioluminescent Beasts, a light-reactive installation by popular local artist Mike Bennett
  • ‘Green Fuse’, a multimedia art experience from CymaSpace combining music and sound-responsive LED lights strips to benefit both Deaf and hearing people
  • Roller disco night and four evenings of Silent Disco dances
  • Luna, a 24 foot long orca whale covered in 6,000 environmentally friendly LED bulbs
  • So how do you see all this cool stuff by bike? Portland’s bike people have you covered.

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    LOVE it.
    (Photo: Willamette Light Brigade/James Crawford)

    You can either join a group ride or go DIY-style.

    So far we’re aware of four different group rides organized around the Light Festival. Here they are:

    Friday 2/4 at 6:30 pm: The Illuminated Ride – Meet at the carfree plaza on SW Montgomery and 6th (PSU campus) and join Timo from PBOT on an easy 5.5 mile cruise through the central city to view several WLF works. Details here.

    Saturday 2/5 at 6:00 pm: WLF LOVE Trike Ride – The lit-up L-O-V-E trike is an instant party ride wherever it rolls. This ride that meets at Irving Park in northeast is a perfect opportunity to see it, ride with it, and share in its resplendent awesomeness. Details here.

    Saturday 2/5 at 7:00 pm: North Portland WLF Tour – All-around nice guy and Bike Loud PDX leader Nic Cota will host a ride that meets at Cherry Sprout Produce on N Albina and Sumner. Details here.

    Saturday 2/11 at 6:30 pm: Light Brigade WLF Inner City Tour – The inimitable Scott Batchelar will lead this longer ride from Alberta Park that will see several installations in north Portland and the central city. Details here.

    Sunday 2/12 at 5:45 pm: Winter Light Festival – North to St. Johns – Veteran ride leader and route guru Tom Howe has put together a splendid loop from New Seasons Market on N Williams Ave that will take you by 13 WLF exhibits. Details here.

    If you’d rather just grab a pre-vetted route from our resident guru Tom Howe, check out these three WLF loops he’s put together using Ride With GPS: Central Eastside / Southeast, North, and Northeast.

    Whether you plan on it or not, if you are on your bike in the next two weeks you’ll probably see some of these displays. Enjoy it and have fun out there!

    PDXWLF.com

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

    Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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    Paul Cone
    Paul Cone
    2 years ago

    When is the North Portland ride? 2/12 is Saturday. The link above says 2/11, which is Friday.

    Tom Howe (Contributor)
    Reply to  Paul Cone

    The North Portland Ride is on Saturday 2/12 at 5:45pm

    https://www.facebook.com/events/489161772648835